Dayton Blasts Legislators, Even as He Allows Budget Bills to Become Law

May 31, 2017 09:00 AM

Gov. Mark Dayton announced Tuesday afternoon that he had vetoed the so-called preemption bill passed by the Republican Legislature, and he signed the remaining budget bills that had been sent to him.

Dayton had originally allowed the $650 million tax cut bill passed by the Legislature to become law without his signature, but he signed the bill late Tuesday to remove the possibility that if he didn't sign by midnight, it would be considered a pocket veto. 


Those bills together make up a $46 billion budget.

In a letter to legislators, Dayton said he signed the remaining bills "in order to forestall a bitter June showdown over a State Government shutdown."

Dayton said he had strong disagreements with certain provisions in every one of those bills, but did not want a repeat of the state government shutdown of 2011.

Dayton said he could not veto the tax bill because of a so-called "poison pill" he said Republican lawmakers inserted that would have eliminated all funding for the Minnesota Department of Revenue in 2018 and 2019 if the tax bill was not enacted.

"I consider this provision, snuck into the State Government bill without my knowledge, to be a reprehensible sneak attack, which shatters whatever trust we achieved during the session," Dayton said at an early evening news conference. "Now I understand why you made it almost impossible for my staff and me to obtain drafts of your bills'  language, sometimes not until minutes before they were brought to the floor for passage."

Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said they would challenge the "constitutionality" of the governor's move in court.

"Unfortunately the governor is deciding to take an action that we think is unprecedented," Daudt said. "We question not only the reasons he's doing it and the constitutionality of what he's doing. I am personally disappointed in the governor's behavior surrounding this whole end of session and resolving it in this way."

Gazelka admitted it was "a twist we didn't see coming."

"We just traveled around the state full of communities and there was a lot of positive vibes about the tax cut bill and transportation bill," Gazelka said. "So coming back to hear what the governor has decided to do is very, very frustrating."

Daudt challenged the governor's use of the words "poison pill" and "sneak attack" regarding the Revenue Department provision in the tax bill. Daudt called it an "insurance policy" to make sure the governor didn't veto the tax bill again as he did two years ago after lawmakers went home.

Daudt also said the provision was in several "drafts" of the tax bill the Dayton administration reviewed last week before the legislature adjourned.

If the legislature doesn't have funding authorized by July 1st, they would have to operate on reserve funds as long as they could. Daudt said the House has about $7 million that would last a little over a month. Senator Gazelka declined to say how much they had available, but said they couldn't operate very long.  

State Rep. Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth, author of the House state government finance bill, also responded quickly to Dayton's statement on Twitter. 



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